Mods and Rockers specialised in Fifties and Sixties interior design furnishings. Modernist plastic crap, smooth curve chairs with black ferrules on shiny spindly aluminium chair legs. Campbells’ Soup and Che Guevarra posters on the wall and black and white tiles on the floor. Oh and don’t forget the sky blue Naugahyde sofa and ubiquitous Tupperware, the social movement that entrenched plastic as indispensable in our lives.
Baby boomers no doubt flocked in on Saturdays to rapturously pounce on green glass orange juicers and pointy nose tin openers with folded corkscrews or sit giggling on the poufs.
I had been informed that the shop was a possible destination for my stolen goods; so had been watching the place for some time, hoping for a sign.
At first, I had not paid much attention when the little man left the shop, until he scuttled to the bus stop.
His puffy blue anorak and wilting black pork pie hat didn’t quite suit him. He was short and chubby, not an athlete; a quintessential clerk.
Restless, he looked anxious; spiking my interest because he was not self-absorbed and inwardly projected like a routine commuter. Popping up from behind his newspaper shield to check the surrounds like a meerkat, peering through his pebble-lensed spectacles, he made me wonder why he was so apparently nervous.
I could read his mind and the growing sense of panic about his situation. Where is that bloody bus? I’ll be spotted before I can get on it. Is my disguise good enough? I’ll just tell them where the goods are, maybe they’ll let me go. What if they torture me?
When the bus came, I knew I must follow him. Hopping on as it moved off, I took a seat near the door, so I could watch him when he got off. He did not notice me.
This is what he told me after I followed him to his flat, shoved him as he opened the door, quickly closing it behind me. He fell down and lay cowering like a stunned rabbit.
I said: “Tell me everything”.
He was the bookkeeper for Mods and Rockers, which was, he suspected, a money laundering operation. Up until yesterday he had kept his nose to the books and never asked questions. Then that changed.
The previous afternoon, the salesgirl Maria Fuentes had asked him to shut up shop as she had a doctor’s appointment. Just as he was locking the front door, a young blonde woman hurried up and thrust a small package at him and said “Make sure Domingo gets this – keep it safe until you see him”. She stepped away quickly and crossed over the street. Domingo was the chauffeur, a surly brute for whom he had little time.
Instead of going back and putting it in the office safe, he had put it in his pocket and continued home. Later, consumed by curiosity, he had opened the package and seen the fortune in sparklers. He knew then that he was in grave danger. Trying to decide what to do he realised that this was his chance to break free. He would go at the weekend but had to hide the package until then.
He had rushed out and hid the package in a left luggage locker at the bus station, intending to make plans to flee after work the next day.